Educational home-study courses are by no means an unproven learning method. The courses, in various forms, have been around for decades, offering students more options to learn educational material.

Through the decades, technology has expanded, which has forced the evolution of home-study courses. That evolution has made the learning experience easier and more convenient for students and teachers. These days, smart phones, tablets and laptop computers have replaced overhead projectors.

The advent of the Internet also has revolutionized the way students learn through video streaming and other online learning modules. Long gone are the days of distance learning with little to no interaction with instructors. A high-speed Internet connection puts you in the classroom.

In Part One, we delved into the beginnings of correspondence courses and their transformations through several decades, from basic mail-order course materials, to the advent of television and VHS recorders to make education more available in the 1980s.

Digital video recording

At the end of the 1980s, VHS tapes were still the rage, but DVD discs were starting to make limited appearances (along with the short-lived LaserDisc), but soon replaced the bulky plastic tapes in the following decade. DVD discs became the new medium for digital recording, providing better video and audio quality, the ability to store more information and at an affordable price.

Instructors could also use video camcorders that recorded directly to DVDs to record lectures and make them available to students with no loss in video quality, as was common with VHS tapes.

Many massage home-study courses still utilize DVDs in course materials, which lets the student see new techniques in use.

The newest phase of this technology is in high-definition video, which gives the viewer a clearer picture and improved audio quality above the existing DVDs.

The Internet

During the rise of DVD technology, the use of the Internet was also on the rise. 

While still in its infant form in the early 1990s, when DVDs were growing in popularity, the use of the Internet in home-study instruction has become very prevalent. Students who choose to take an Internet-based home-study course can often take advantage of recorded videos and message boards, where students can interact with their peers and instructors without having to be in the classroom.

Streaming video on the Internet is also on the rise. Streaming video allows students to view live lectures, much like watching a live television broadcast. And features within streaming video host sites can let the students interact with instructors and students in real time.

What’s next?

As advances on the Internet continue, the rise in smartphone devices and tablet computers are sure to take advantage of instructing students.

Various phone and tablet providers already offer phone applications that can tutor students or offer study reference material for a variety of topics. And with the capability of portable video viewing and editing, it probably won’t be too long before full massage home-study courses can be taken anywhere you can get a signal.

–Jeremy Maready